Coronavirus India lockdown Day 212 updates | India has 30 vaccine programmes: Gagandeep Kang

The next three months are going to be decisive in determining the trajectory of COVID-19 for India, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said. He said that India has shown improvement over the last three months and “from recording over 95,000 COVID-cases in a day, the cases have been substantially reduced to less than 55,000 cases in a day.”

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the latest updates:


Set up dedicated team to enforce COVID-19 norms in Bengaluru, says HC

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday directed the State government to set up a dedicated team of officials for Bengaluru city to strictly enforce the norm of compulsory wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing in public places.

The court also directed the government to impose an additional condition of compulsorily wearing of mask/covering the mouth and nose with a cloth and maintaining social distancing while granting permission for holding rallies, processions and demonstrations under the Licensing and Controlling of Assemblies and Processions (Bangalore City) Order, 2008.

It said a dedicated team was essential as it was impossible for the mere 198 marshals of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), whose main task is to prevent people from throwing garbage in public places, to enforce COVID-19 regulations in a city with a population of around 1.3 crore.


Tamil Nadu

India has 30 vaccine programmes against SARS-CoV-2: Gagandeep Kang

Gagandeep Kang, clinician-scientist at the Christian Medical College, Vellore.

India currently has some 30 vaccine programmes against SARS-CoV-2, “and they span every platform that is available in any part of the world,” said Gagandeep Kang, clinician-scientist at the Christian Medical College, Vellore.

The country has four vaccines that are in clinical trials, and the first one — Covaxin, which is the inactivated vaccine made by Bharat Biotech — will be going into phase 3 clinical trials fairly soon, said Prof. Kang. She was speaking at the last of a three-part seminar jointly hosted by TNQ and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus.



Follow COVID protocol during Vidyarambham rituals: Shylaja

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has urged the people to avoid public celebrations in connection with Pooja and Vidyarambham festivities, given the COVID-19 situation in the State.

The State’s experience is that the infection can turn severe in children and the aged if they contract the disease. This being the situation, the public should heed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s request that Vidyarambham rites should be performed at home, the Minister said.

Persons who initiate the children into the world of letters at Vidyarambham should wash their hands before and after every child performs the ritual. If gold is used to write on the child’s tongue, it should be disinfected first.

Persons who display disease symptoms should not attend the ceremony.

New Delhi

 WHO informed India on January 11 about virus in Wuhan: RTI reply

The World Health Organisation (WHO) informed India as early as January 11 that the reported dates of onset of novel coronavirus circulating in China’s Wuhan ranged between “12-29 December 2019,” according to information accessed through Right to Information (RTI).

Since January 18, all passengers coming from China and Hong Kong were screened for fever at three international airports, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in an affidavit in the Supreme Court on March 31.


India COVID tally

53,370 new cases take India’s COVID-19 tally to 78,14,682

India’s COVID-19 tally climbed to 78.14 lakh with 53,370 fresh cases in a day, while 70,16,046 people have so far recuperated pushing the national recovery rate to 89.78% on Saturday, the Union health ministry said. The total number of coronavirus cases mounted to 78,14,682 and the death toll to 1,17,956, with the novel coronavirus virus claiming 650 lives in a span of 24 hours in the country, the ministry data updated at 8 a.m. on Saturday showed.

The COVID-19 case fatality rate has further declined to 1.51%.

There are 6,80,680 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 8.71% of the total caseload, the ministry data said.

According to ICMR, a cumulative total of 10,13,82,564 samples have been tested up to October 23, with 12,69,479 samples tested on Friday. – PTI

Vaccine update

AstraZeneca, J&J vaccine trials back on track in U.S.

Two major clinical trials for experimental COVID-19 vaccines got back on track in the United States Friday — providing a glimmer of hope as the number of cases skyrocket across the country.

COVID-19 has now killed more than 223,000 Americans, and the health crisis is a top issue in the presidential election pitting incumbent Donald Trump against Joe Biden.

AstraZeneca announced that the trial of its vaccine candidate, developed with Britain’s University of Oxford, has resumed in the U.S., the only country where it remained suspended following a participant’s illness six weeks ago.



U.S. breaks daily record for coronavirus cases with over 84,000 new infections

The United States broke its daily record for new coronavirus infections on Friday as it reported 84,218 new cases due to outbreaks in virtually every part of the country, according to a Reuters tally.

The spike in cases comes less than two weeks before the presidential election on Nov. 3 and is hitting battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. On Thursday, the United States reported a near-record 76,195 new cases.

The previous record was 77,299 new cases on July 16. At the time, hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients hit 47,000 and two weeks later deaths rose to an average of 1,200 per day. – Reuters

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AstraZeneca vaccine; Chicago curfew; Louisiana football

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Coronavirus Australia news: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson resume US trials of COVID-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca has resumed the US trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after approval by American regulators.

An oversight panel has recommended that Johnson & Johnson resume its trial as well.

AstraZeneca’s US trial was paused on September 6 after a report of a serious neurological illness in a participant in the company’s UK trial.

Follow today’s events below.

Live updates

Audience comment by Lockdown birthdays

Happy 18th birthday Mary-Jane. My daughter had her 21st at home here in Melbourne last Saturday. Not the party she hd envisaged but a quiet dinner with 4 of us. But after lockdown she is planning to celebrate with friends and she brought herself lots of presents online to make up for it. Enjoy your day 😊

By Alicia Nally

What is going on with the [alleged] four new Victorian cases?



Alicia your post below says there are four new cases in Preston but dhhs and the blog haven’t released any vic numbers for the day so what’s going on there?



Yeah, confusing.


We are trying to clarify. 


Stand by! 

By Alicia Nally

Life after lockdown outside the ring of steel


ABC News


Regional Victoria has become a land of its own – locked in by state borders and Melbourne’s quarantine zone, different rules apply here. And people are making the most of it.


Audience comment by The rains are here

Did Dan make it rain on GF day to stop people gathering??? Does he have such powers??? That’s awesome!!

Audience comment by Birthday shoutout

Can we get a shouting for Mary-Jane who is spending her 18th birthday in lockdown in mel.

Audience comment by Abs

Happy Grand Final Day<br>Go the Cats!!

By Alicia Nally

Key Event

Here is yesterday’s coronavirus live blog

By Alicia Nally

Dear Ireland, a second coronavirus lockdown will be tough but be brave and go on





ABC Radio Melbourne’s fabulous Virginia Trioli has penned some words of advice for Ireland.


Among many nuggets of wisdom is this:


“I’m sorry Ireland, but just like your mum might have told you when you came down with the measles – this is going to get worse before it gets better.”


Read the whole letter here.

By Alicia Nally

The dilemma of being asked to return to the office… or warehouse/worksite, etc. 

Good morning Alicia. My husband has been working from home since the start of April. His boss recently said he will be expected to work from the office when restrictions ease on November 2nd. The third and last steps in the roadmap state if you can work from home you must. His boss says that it is a recommendation to work from home, not compulsory. Can you please advise whether it is compulsory or a recommendation. Thanks.

-Concerned wife

Hi there Concerned wife,

I can definitely understand your anxiety.

The Victorian Government has clear guidelines online that state an employer must support you to work from home, if you can work from home. 

The website states:


“If your place of work is permitted to operate and if you cannot do your work from home, then you can go to work. You will need to have a Permitted Worker Permit.


“However, you should consider flexible working arrangements with your employer, including off-peak travel.


“If you are unwell, you must stay at home.

“If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should get tested.”


“You and your employer should work together to identify if you can work from home.


“Workers can raise concerns about being asked to return to work through the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444.


“If a complaint is made, the employer would need to show why the employee cannot work from home.”


It’s a tricky situation but there are avenues for your husband to be supported to stay at home.


Best of luck!

By Alicia Nally

Key Event

Four new Preston cases: COVID-19 update for northern metropolitan Melbourne


ABC News


The Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging all East Preston Islamic College and Croxton School families and staff to get tested at any testing centre in Melbourne, immediately even if they do not have symptoms, and stay home until they receive their results.


There have been an additional four cases in the Preston area. One case is a student at East Preston Islamic College


There will be a drive through testing centre operating at the East Preston Islamic College from today. Both schools will remain closed for the next two weeks. 


The community can access testing sites at the following locations: 

  • Broadmeadows Central Shopping Centre at north carpark 1099 – 1169 Pascoe Vale Rd, Broadmeadows from 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Coolaroo Respiratory Centre at 512 Barry St, Coolaroo from 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Melbourne airport, Terminal 4 Level 2 (Mercer Dv exit off Tullamarine Fwy) from 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Craigieburn Health Service, 274 – 304 Craigieburn road from 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Highlands Hotel at 301 Grand Boulevard, Craigieburn from 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Austin Hospital at 145 Studley Rd, Heidelberg from 8:00am – 8:00pm
  • Banyule Community Health at 21 Alamein Rd, Heidelberg West from 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Banyule Community Health at 14 – 32 Civic Drive, Greensborough from 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Northland Shopping Centre at Target carpark via Murray Rd, Preston from 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • CB Smith Reserve at 79 Jukes Rd, Fawkner from 9:00am – 4:00pm


Additional pop-up testing sites will also be announced in Hume, Banyule and Darebin in the coming days.


In addition, we are testing a number of secondary close contacts at Sirius College and Ilim College. They are connected to separate close contacts who will be tested again over this weekend. 


The Department is working closely with community and faith leaders from across Melbourne to ensure everyone is aware of the importance of getting tested as the best way to fight this virus.


By Alicia Nally

Victorian family ‘devastated’ after boy unknowingly took coronavirus to Melbourne school, principal says


ABC News


The family at the centre of a COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne’s north are so devastated and shaken by the situation, they have considered leaving the area, the principal of East Preston Islamic College says.


The college and Dallas Brooks Community Primary School have temporarily closed, and hundreds of potential contacts are in isolation, after a year five boy tested positive for the virus.


A mix-up led to the child attending the Islamic College on Monday and Tuesday, prompting doctors and community leaders to question whether health authorities were providing clear communication to coronavirus cases from multicultural communities.


Jessica Longbottom has the whole story here.

By Alicia Nally

Rainbow lorikeets to brighten a rainy Melbourne day

Good morning Alicia, rainy day here in Melbourne. Could you please post a GIF of a rainbow lorikeet?

-Rainbow lorikeet

By Alicia Nally

Sending positive vibes to Victoria


Spotted this tweet and thought it was pretty good.


We miss you Victoria/ns and we can’t wait to traipse around Bourke St Mall, hop on a tram, dip a toe in the surf at Torquay, sip on a crisp Yarra Valley pinot…


You get the drift.


Professor Devi Sridhar is the chairwoman of Global Public Health at Edinburgh University Medical School and tweeted: “One of these places used July to October to ramp up testing & tracing & enforce strict border measures (& will return soon to largely normal daily life & join a Pacific/East Asian travel bubble).”


Hint…it’s not France or the UK.


By Alicia Nally

Key Event

US trials of COVID-19 vaccines resume





AstraZeneca has resumed the US trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after approval by US regulators.


An oversight panel has recommended that Johnson & Johnson resume its trial as well.


AstraZeneca’s US trial was paused on September 6 after a report of a serious neurological illness, believed to be transverse myelitis, in a participant in the company’s UK trial.


US Health and Human Services Deputy Chief of Staff Paul Mango also told reporters he was optimistic a US trial by J&J would resume.


J&J paused its large, late-stage trial last week after a study participant became ill and the company said an independent safety panel was investigating.


AstraZeneca trials in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa resumed last month even as the US Food and Drug Administration continued its investigation into the case.


AstraZeneca’s vaccine is being developed along with researchers at Oxford University.



By Alicia Nally

Welcome to the ABC News Australia coronavirus live blog for Saturday, October 24


Alicia Nally here with you this morning.


Nic McElroy will join us a bit later.


We’ll have all the national and world news about coronavirus coming through right here.


Do send through questions, gif requests, recipe ideas…I’m all ears!


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COVID vaccine is coming in ‘a matter of weeks or months,’ HHS says

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US set to resume Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine trials after illness review

A J&J spokesman on Tuesday said the study remains on pause as the company continues its review of medical information before deciding to restart the trial. J&J noted that its “study pause” was voluntary, in contrast to AstraZeneca’s “regulatory hold,” which is imposed by health authorities.

Vaccines are seen as essential to helping end the pandemic that has battered economies around the world and claimed more than 1 million lives – over 220,000 of them in the United States.

Responding to a request about the AstraZeneca trial, British regulators shared with Reuters a draft of a form letter to UK vaccine trial participants, dated Oct. 14 and signed by the Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine Team. It says the US FDA had “completed their analysis” and said vaccination in the United States would resume shortly.

FDA “has come to the same conclusion as the other drug regulators including the MHRA,” the letter states.

The Health Research Authority, which helps oversee UK medical research, said in an email to Reuters that it vetted the communication to make sure it was suitable to ensure informed consent among study volunteers. It could not confirm that the letter had been issued.

An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said the communication is not from the company and it “cannot verify the content”, referring to the draft letter to study participants.

“We also cannot comment on a pending FDA decision,” she said. The Oxford study team has not responded to requests for comment.

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Live updates | Don’t lower your guard until there is a vaccine: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation at 6 p.m. on October 20. This is his seventh address to the nation since the COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak.

With the onset of the festival season, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this is not the time to be careless as the novel coronavirus is still around and even a small negligence can dampen the festive spirit.

Here are the updates:


Highlight from PM Modi’s speech:

We must keep in mind that the lockdown may have ended but the virus is still there.

COVID-19 fatality rate in India is 83 for one million population, while the figure is more than 600 in countries like U.S., Brazil and Spain.

This is not the time to be careless or to believe that COVID-19 has ended.

Of late many people have stopped taking precautions, this is not right.

If you are careless and moving around without mask, you are putting yourself, children and the elderly at risk.

Govt is making all efforts to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine, whenever it is launched, reaches every Indian.

Media personnel, people on social media should campaign and spread public awareness for following COVID-19 guidelines.


PM Modi’s address to the nation:

Dear countrymen,

“In the fight against coronavirus, we have travelled very far, from the days of the Janata curfew. We can also see economic activity picking up. Many of us are going out to perform our responsibility. In the festival season, the markets are looking up. Lockdown may have gone but virus has not gone. This is not the time to become irresponsible or believe that Corona has gone away. Or that there is no threat from COVID-19. Recently, we have seen videos and photos that people have become careless. You are harming yourself and others in your family.

“Recently, we have seen videos and photos that people have become careless. You are harming yourself and others in your family. Many countries were witnessing COVID-19 coming down, but again it is going up. And it is going up alarmingly.”

‘We cannot led the guard down’

He goes on to quote Kabirdas doha to say the farmer would think he has done a good job. But the job is not done until the harvest reaches home. He says we can’t think the job is over till the vaccine is ready. “We cannot led he guard down. The world is working on a war footing to find a vaccine for corona,” the PM says. “In India too we are working on vaccine, some are in advanced stage. And as and when it comes, we are working on a plan to reach every household as fast as we can,” he adds.

PM Narendra Modi quotes Ramcharitmanas and says the book warns that enemy and disease should not be taken lightly “It is festival time. It is time for happiness. We are coming out of bad times. Little carelessness can cause big problems.

Do gaj ki doori, safe dostancing, repeatedly washing hands using soaps and wearing masks are a must. I want to see you all safe and healthy. I appeal the media people and those on social media to create awareness on corona prevention.” He extends seasonal greetings to all of them.

Jab tak dawai nahi, dhilai nahi [Don’t lower your guard until there is a vaccine]. For every 10 lakh population, our COVID-19 infection is 5,500 whereas this figure is over 25,000 in countries like the U.S. and Brazil. Our recovery rate is very well and the number of deaths per 10 lakh population is 83.”


Will share a message with citizens: PM

Urging people to hear the address, the Prime Minister said in a tweet, “Will be sharing a message with my fellow citizens at 6 PM this evening”.

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Healthcare workers, high-risk people will get priority for COVID-19 vaccine in New York — governor

According to the five-phase preliminary plan for New York’s vaccine administration program, healthcare workers in patient-care settings, long-term care facility workers, and some long-term care residents would be among the first to receive a vaccine. Image via The New York National Guard / CC BY 2.0

NEW YORK — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that healthcare workers and high-risk populations, including some long-term care residents, would get priority in his state to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved and available.

According to the five-phase preliminary plan for New York’s vaccine administration program, some details of which Mr. Cuomo announced at a news briefing, healthcare workers in patient-care settings, long-term care facility workers, and some long-term care residents would be among the first to receive a vaccine.

In the second phase of vaccine rollout, first responders, school staff, other public-facing frontline workers and people whose health conditions put them at extreme risk would get priority for the vaccine.

In Phase 3, it would be administered to people over 65. All remaining essential workers would receive the vaccine in a fourth phase, and healthy adults and children would receive it in a fifth phase.

Prioritization would also vary by geographic location based on the prevalence of the virus, Mr. Cuomo said.

“This is a larger operational undertaking, I would argue, than anything we have done during COVID to date,” he told reporters.

The program will likely seek to deliver some 40 million doses of a vaccine to state residents, as New York’s population is around 20 million and the vaccines in development may require two doses to be effective, Mr. Cuomo said.

He said the state had sent the drafted plan to the federal government, along with questions on what funding the federal government would provide for the effort.

“States cannot do this on their own,” he said.

A New York state task force will carry out its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government due to concerns of politicization of the approval process, according to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who has blasted President Donald J. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine,” Mr. Cuomo said on Sunday. — Gabriella Borter/Reuters

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Coronavirus vaccine race raises questions over potential parental disagreements

Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic the hopes of many have been pinned on a potential vaccine, but what happens if parents disagree over giving their child the COVID-19 vaccination?

Past cases could provide some clues about how this scenario could play out in the courts.

A family and relationships lawyer said the COVID-19 vaccination could prompt an increase in Family Court cases if some parents disagree over whether to immunise their children.

There have been several cases settled in court after parents disagreed over vaccinating their children against other diseases, and this could provide some indication of what is to come when the highly anticipated vaccine is released.

But HopgoodGanim Lawyers partner Lisa Lahey said the COVID-19 vaccination might be treated differently in the courts.

Ms Lahey said normally parents had equal shared parental responsibility for their children, including the right to make decisions about the children’s medical care.

She said if parents could not agree upon vaccinations they could apply to the court to obtain sole parental responsibility for that issue.

Ms Lahey says court action should always be a last resort.(Supplied: HopgoodGanim Lawyers)

“For example, if one parent is opposed to vaccinations, the other one might want an order so that they can have the sole right to make those decisions and ensure that the vaccinations happen,” she said.

Ms Lahey said it was rare for these disputes to end up in court.

“You’re on a hiding to nothing if you go to the Family Court to try to prevent vaccinations from happening because the Family Court will consider vaccination under normal circumstances to be in the best interest of the children, so you’ll lose,” she said.

“Not many people want to spend legal costs on losing. So, it is not common that these applications are brought to Family Court these days, but there have been some in the past.”

Courts previously dealt with vaccine disputes

Ms Lahey said there were several reported Family Court decisions involving child vaccination disputes.

Duke-Randall and Randall in 2014; This is a case where a couple of anti-vaxxers separated and then the father decided to see the light and change his ways and get the children immunised,” she said.

Parents can apply to the court to become solely responsible for vaccinations.(Flickr: ZaldyImg)

“The mother tried to prevent it. But she was ordered by the court to commence a catch-up vaccination program for the children.

“In a 2012 case, the father vaccinated the children by stealth because he knew the mother was opposed.

“She was annoyed about that. She criticised him for it in the litigation.

“But the court said, ‘no, he acted in the children’s best interests’.”

‘Court action should be a last resort’

But Ms Lahey said the COVID-19 vaccine might be a different story.

She said the court would have to weigh up immunising the child against exposure to COVID-19 against the long-term effects of the vaccine, which might initially be unknown.

“The COVID vaccine could conceivably be different to normal immunisation of the child,” she said.

“There could be some scientific dispute about the benefit of it being given to children, because children don’t seem so susceptible to coronavirus.

“There could be a bit of excitement in the media about the vaccine being rushed to the market, [and] not much time being spent in the trials.

“A lot of separated parents do an excellent job of reaching compromises, but not all of them.

“And I do expect that some of them will want to litigate whether or not their children should receive a coronavirus vaccine when it turns up.

“I do think that there will be a couple of people who will try their luck in the Family Court.

“But fairly rapidly, after the first one or two decisions are handed down, I suspect that those cases will be settled.”

Ms Lahey said court action should always be a last resort.

“Start by talking to a doctor together if you can, obtaining advice from the same doctor about your child’s risks and the benefit of the vaccine,” she said.

“Go to see a mediator if you can’t agree. Spend money on lawyers as the very last resort.

“The courts have got plenty of things to do without vaccines adding to it.”

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Dow advances, S&P ekes out gain as vaccine timeline comes into focus

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, September 30, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

October 16, 2020

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 posted a nominal gain on Friday as further clarity regarding the timeline for the development of a coronavirus vaccine and much better-than-expected retail sales data and brought buyers back to the market.

The Dow also joined the S&P in positive territory, both indexes snapping a three-day losing streak driven by halted vaccine trials and continued wrangling in Washington over a new pandemic relief package. But the Nasdaq ended the session lower.

Even so, they all posted gains on the week.

Pfizer Inc announced it could apply for U.S. authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with German partner BioNTech in November. Pfizer’s stock gained 3.8%.

“The two highest-level market movers are the vaccine timeline and stimulus optimism,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategist at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “Sometimes the market gets a reality check that even if we get a vaccine early next year that’s an incredibly aggressive and optimistic timeline.”

Retail sales in September blew past analyst expectations and consumer sentiment for the current month surprised to the upside, according to two separate economic reports. But with previous stimulus having run its course, the outlook is uncertain unless Washington can reach an agreement on a fresh round of fiscal aid.

“It’s important from the retail sales data to see that the consumer is not just limping a long but exceeding expectations,” Mayfield added. “I don’t know how long this can continue without stimulus but it’s heartening to see the consumer has held up pretty well despite some dire expectations.”

On the stimulus front, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that President Donald Trump would “weigh in” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if an agreement is reached on a new pandemic relief package. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, however, said he does not expect an agreement to be reached ahead of the Nov. 3 election as long as Pelosi is involved.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 112.11 points, or 0.39%, to 28,606.31, the S&P 500 gained 0.47 points, or 0.01%, to 3,483.81 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 42.32 points, or 0.36%, to 11,671.56.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven ended the session in the black. While utilities had the largest percentage gain, energy suffered the biggest loss.

Third-quarter reporting season burst from the starting gate this week, with 49 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 86% have cleared the low bar set by expectations, according to Refinitiv.

Oil services company Schlumberger NV posted its third straight quarterly loss due to falling crude prices and plunging demand. Its shares dropped 8.8%.

Railroad operator Kansas City Southern shed 2.7% and transportation and logistics company J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc tumbled 9.7% after the companies’ quarterly results were hit dropping shipping demand.

The Dow Jones Transport index, considered a barometer of economic health, fell 1.3%.

Shares of fitness company Peloton Interactive Inc lost 3.7% after announcing a recall of faulty pedals on its popular exercise bikes.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.07-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 50 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 98 new highs and 20 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 8.82 billion shares, compared with the 9.31 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Until a Coronavirus Vaccine Is Ready, Pneumonia Vaccines May Reduce Deaths From COVID-19

The yearly influenza season threatens to make the COVID-19 pandemic doubly deadly, but I believe that this isn’t inevitable.

There are two commonly given vaccines – the pneumococcal vaccine and the Hib vaccine – that protect against bacterial pneumonias. These bacteria complicate both influenza and COVID-19, often leading to death. My examination of disease trends and vaccination rates leads me to believe that broader use of the pneumococcal and Hib vaccines could guard against the worst effects of a COVID-19 illness.

I am an immunologist and physiologist interested in the effects of combined infections on immunity. I have reached my insight by juxtaposing two seemingly unrelated puzzles: Infants and children get SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but very rarely become hospitalized or die; and case numbers and death rates from COVID-19 began varying greatly from nation to nation and city to city even before lockdowns began. I wondered why.

One night I woke up with a possible answer: vaccination rates. Most children, beginning at age two months, are vaccinated against numerous diseases; adults less so. And, both infant and adult vaccination rates vary widely across the world. Could differences in the rates of vaccination against one or more diseases account for differences in COVID-19 risks? As someone who had previously investigated other pandemics such as the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918-19 and AIDS, and who has worked with vaccines, I had a strong background for tracking down the relevant data to test my hypothesis.

Pneumococcal Vaccination Rates Correlate With Lower COVID-19 Cases and Deaths

I gathered national and some local data on vaccination rates against influenza, polio, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP), tuberculosis (BCG), pneumococci and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). I correlated them with COVID-19 case rates and death rates for 24 nations that had experienced their COVID-19 outbreaks at about the same time. I controlled for factors such as percentage of the population who were obese, diabetic or elderly.

I found that only pneumococcal vaccines afforded statistically significant protection against COVID-19. Nations such as Spain, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, Peru and Chile that have the highest COVID-19 rates per million have the poorest pneumococcal vaccination rates among both infants and adults. Nations with the lowest rates of COVID-19 – Japan, Korea, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand – have the highest rates of pneumococcal vaccination among both infants and adults.

A recent preprint study (not yet peer-reviewed) from researchers at the Mayo Clinic has also reported very strong associations between pneumococcal vaccination and protection against COVID-19. This is especially true among minority patients who are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. The report also suggests that other vaccines, or combinations of vaccines, such as Hib and MMR may also provide protection.

These results are important because in the U.S., childhood vaccination against pneumococci – which protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria – varies by state from 74% to 92%. Although the CDC recommends that all adults 18-64 in high risk groups for COVID-19 and all adults over the age of 65 get a pneumococcal vaccination, only 23% of high-risk adults and 64% of those over the age of 65 do so.

Similarly, although the CDC recommends at all infants and some high-risk adults be vaccinated against Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), only 80.7% of children in the U.S. and a handful of immunologically compromised adults have been. Pneumococcal and Hib vaccination rates are significantly lower in minority populations in the U.S. and in countries that have been hit harder by COVID-19 than the U.S.

Based on these data, I advocate universal pneumococcal and Hib vaccination among children, at-risk adults and all adults over 65 to prevent serious COVID-19 disease.

Left: Combined rates of childhood and adult (over 65) pneumococcal vaccination (out of a possible 200). Right: Cases (per million) population of COVID-19 at about 90 days into the pandemic for 24 nations. Nations with high pneumococcal vaccination rates have low COVID-19 case rates. (Credit: CC BY-SA)

How Pneumococcal Vaccination Protects Against COVID-19

Protection against serious COVID-19 disease by pneumococcal and Hib vaccines makes sense for several reasons. First, recent studies reveal that the majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and in some studies nearly all, are infected with streptococci, which causes pneumococcal pneumonias, Hib or other pneumonia-causing bacteria. Pneumococcal and Hib vaccinations should protect coronavirus patients from these infections and thus significantly cut the risk of serious pneumonia.

I also found that pneumococcal, Hib and possibly rubella vaccines may confer specific protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 by means of “molecular mimicry.”

Molecular mimicry occurs when the immune system thinks one microbe looks like another. In this case, proteins found in pneumococcal vaccines and, to a lesser degree, ones found in Hib and rubella vaccines as well look like several proteins produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Two of these proteins found in pneumococcal vaccines mimic the spike and membrane proteins that permit the virus to infect cells. This suggests pneumococcal vaccination may prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection. Two other mimics are the nucleoprotein and replicase that control virus replication. These proteins are made after viral infection, in which case pneumococcal vaccination may control, but not prevent, SARS-CoV-2 replication.

Either way, these vaccines may provide proxy protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection that we can implement right now, even before we have a specific virus vaccine. Such protection may not be complete. People might still suffer a weakened version of COVID-19 but, like most infants and children, be protected against the worst effects of the infection.

Fighting Influenza-related Pneumonias During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the specific protection these other vaccines confer against COVID-19 has not yet been tested in a clinical trial, I advocate broader implementation of pneumococcal and Hib vaccination for one additional, well-validated reason.

Pneumococcal and Hib pneumonias – both caused by bacteria – are the major causes of death following viral influenza. The influenza virus rarely causes death directly. Most often, the virus makes the lungs more susceptible to bacterial pneumonias, which are deadly. Dozens of studies around the world have demonstrated that increasing rates of pneumococcal and Hib vaccination dramatically lowers influenza-related pneumonias.

Similar studies demonstrate that the price of using these vaccines is balanced by savings due to lower rates of influenza-related hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and deaths. In the context of COVID-19, lowering rates of influenza-related hospitalizations and ICU admissions would free up resources to fight the coronavirus, independent of any effect these vaccines might have on SARS-CoV-2 itself. In my opinion, that is a winning scenario.

In short, we need not wait for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to slow down COVID-19.

I believe that we can and should act now by fighting the coronavirus with all the tools at our disposal, including influenza, Hib, pneumococcal and perhaps rubella vaccinations.

Preventing pneumococcal and Hib complications of influenza and COVID-19, and perhaps proxy-vaccinating against SARS-CoV-2 itself, helps everyone. Administering these already available and well-tested pneumococcal and Hib vaccines to people will save money by freeing up hospital beds and ICUs. It will also improve public health by reducing the spread of multiple infections and boost the economy by nurturing a healthier population.

Robert Root-Bernstein is a Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation under a Creative Commons liscense Read the original here.

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